REPLY TO ALL: Grown Up Gaming Rules

Addictive games are infecting The Cursed lately, and before an intervention is staged we thought a good cure would be to take a look at the gaming rules instituted in our homes. This week we are joined by JDevL, Colefacekilla, Wizardtrain187, GiffTor, Robeque, Coopopolopolis, and EndlessBen.

Fallout 3

Rule breaker

JDevL

My rules are pretty self-imposed at this point, but I should probably come up with a disciplinary system around my game purchases at some point. One habit I have successfully conquered is the “No Double All Nighter” rule. I used to tear through games as soon as I got the chance. It’s actually pretty damn fun when a game is 10 hours or less to just knock it out in one overnight sitting. But I had to force myself to take breaks during giant games like Fallout 3 and Mass Effect 2. I had to forcibly stop myself and leave the house so that I would avoid playing them for 2 days straight. It hurt a bit, but I know if I had played that game until I wanted to stop, I never would have. Friendships, relationships, and may career would have been damaged in the process. Let alone the physical toll of living off of the diet that emerges from a marathon gaming session like that. I’ve learned I need fresh air and social interaction to recharge. It makes both my gaming and my non-gaming life a lot more enjoyable.

Robeque

The gaming rules of our house? There is no rule. I game whenever the f*ck I want, wherever the f*ck I want. … As long as my gaming is not blocking some random show that my wife wants to watch or if she really wants to watch a movie or spend time with me and/or I don’t have any chores to do that would put me in the chump category for playing instead of doing. I really just try to be mindful that it’s her space, too. She doesn’t watch much TV at all, so it’s rare that I don’t play b/c of that. We watch a lot of movies, but I enjoy that, too so it’s all good there. All in all I’d say I have it pretty good as far as rules for gaming are concerned. I guess the rule for myself would be, don’t be a jerk about it… and be a responsible adult.

Coopopolopolis

I never really had any gaming rules until here recently. I’ve always tried to be respectful with my gaming habits around my wife and I just kind of play whenever I can. I’d say right now the only thing that I really try to stick to is watching what games I play in front of my daughter. Since most of my games are pretty violent and colorful in language it ends up just being a rule of not gaming too much in front of her. Or if I do for now just making sure that its semi-kid friendly and she won’t pick up too many bad habits from it. I’m hoping that I started that rule early enough. I definitely remember days playing Dead Space while she napped on the floor as an infant, unable to move away from the horror. I may have given her a lifetime of subliminal nightmares with that one. Or who knows, I could’ve planted the seed that keeps her from being scared.

Dead Space

He's just hugging him, sweetie

GiffTor

In the interest of full disclosure: I am a 30-year old bachelor-with-a-serious-girlfriend, a dog, full-time grownup job (AKA: career) and a mortgage. So…whereas some of the other Cursed have things like “wives” and “children” to distract them, my gaming-related rules are pretty limited. I swim/go to the gym in the morning before work, so here’s the rule-set for after work/the weekend: take The Spenser out to potty and feed him. If there are no other significant obligations like “clean up really fast because The Girlfriend of The GiffTor is coming over,” or “paying bills so that I have electricity to power the 360,” or “maintaining a social life > a hermit,” it’s: Turn on 360. Make cocktail. Make “cocktail” for The Spenser consisting of rawhide chew. Commence gaming until The Spenser says that he needs to go poo. Take The Spenser out. Game until time to cook dinner. Upon completion of dinner, turn off 360 and consume food.

That’s it. I’m sure that will change if I end up cohabitating/getting married/having children who are not quadrupeds.

Wizardtrain187

The most important rule I currently have is that I can’t play video games unless my day has been productive. I have what some may call “attention problems” and thus struggle throughout the day to focus on important tasks. Because video games are one of the few things that can hold my attention, I tend to get off track and neglect daily responsibilities if I get too into playing them. Like mentioned above, maintaining a career is tough when the most important objective you’ve completed is digging up blocks of sand or mining rocks.

I also make sure that I never play video games first thing in the morning or right when I get home from work. Like I mentioned before, video games absorb my brain and starting or ending my day with them is never a good idea.

This isn’t a rule, but I really work on making sure my wife doesn’t feel like I’d rather play video games than hang out with her. Despite how realistic games have gotten, they can always be saved, paused or turned off and played another day, but damage to real life relationships can be permanent. Plus, despite my attempt at machismo, I like to cuddle and doing that with video games is really freaking weird. Cuddling while playing video games is another thing altogether…

Robeque

Nintendo 64

So squeezable

I like those rules. Never tried machismo, but I’ll take your word on that. Though, I did cuddle with my N64 when I first got it. It wasn’t weird at all. The one rule here I think would be hard to follow is to never begin or end the day with video games. I would rarely get up early enough to play a game before heading to work, but I almost always play something during the evening before bed. Especially in the winter. Are you saying that you don’t play games in the evenings at all?… or just right after you get home or right before bed?

I’m with you on the “attention problems” bit. What is it about video games that override that problem? I can sit and play a game for 4 straight hours without batting an eyelash, but reading a text book for 30 minutes has me yawning and falling asleep and thinking about what game I’d rather be playing.

GiffTor

I think that the whole distraction issue depends on the individual. I’ve always been a big reader and have no problem with a marathon gaming session…but ask me to pay attention to a lecture? Fuggedaboudit. So…three words (that require a prescription and probably allow me to function effectively in the business world) Rit. A. Lin. But seriously, I think you raise a great point, Ethan that goes right to the heart of the “Video Game Addiction” BS. If someone’s playing too many video games to go to work/have an active social or romantic life/get schoolwork done, it’s a symptom, not a cause. And I tried cuddling while gaming on Saturday night. It was solid.

JDevL

I always end up bashing her head or my head with a controller when attempting to game while cuddling. That black eye caused by Pac-Man is just hard to explain. I don’t quite get the no games before/after sleep rule though, I do have a strict new No Puzzle Games before bed rule though. I cannot shut off my brain after problem solving that much, but snoozing after headshots has never been a problem for me though. However, I do recommend waking up and playing puzzle games though. Better than coffee for me and was my primary use of my DS for the past year or so.

On a serious note, you guys are spot on about the game addiction being that out of control is being a symptom of a larger problem. I’m also going to try and use the phrase, spot on, more often.

Colefacekilla

The only rule I live by is that there are no rules. I can basically play whenever I want to and I don’t even have to ask permission from the wife. However, being the ‘good’ husband that I am, I do ask for permission, especially if she’s watching something on the TV. She is usually content with putting on headphones and watching her stories on the computer.

Being the hypocrite I am, I’m going to contradict the first sentence in the previous paragraph: I have self-imposed rules. I try to limit myself from playing more than 4 hours a day (on my days off that is). I don’t like rushing through games because I feel like I need to get my money’s worth no matter how long the single player experience actually is. If I get halfway through a game the first day I bought it, it’s not unusual for me to not touch it again for a week or so. It builds that false sense of justification into the purchase. Yeah, I’m weird.

Wizardtrain187

Yeah, I like the 4 hour a day rule although I break it every so often.

The no games to start the day or end the day comes from two components that both tie into ADHD maintenance. First, video games are leisure activities and I’ve been trying to force my brain into thinking of such activities as a reward upon the completion of necessary tasks as opposed to an activity my brain constantly desires. This desire makes accomplishing important tasks much more difficult because there’s always that temptation to play games alongside the inherent focus issues I inherently have. By creating these mental guidelines, I ensure productivity by making reward contingent on meeting certain criteria (such as finishing chores, working out, etc). I have certain attributes that make me a candidate video game addiction, but not being lazy and having structure really helps.

I don’t play before bed because of the stimulation I get from playing. This prevents me from sleeping soundly and my wife doesn’t appreciate machine gun sounds and thrashing movements throughout the night. And although it has yet to occur, I am afraid to play a really sweet game, then have a dream about it and end up peeing in my pants. This is just not good for anyone involved.

Call of Duty

Dreams that get you kicked out of bed

EndlessBen

My household is also pretty much an anarchy when it comes to gaming. I don’t have any particular rules. I do, like others, try to curtail the gaming when I have some time to spend with the girlfriend but that comes more out of a self-preservation instinct. The “you were supposed to be over an hour and a half ago, what have you been doing” conversation is just not worth it. Beyond that, I’ve never had any issues with playing before bed, other than it keeping me up way later than I intended to be awake. In fact, I usually feel pretty satisfied if I spend all of a rare day off playing games. Makes me feel pretty productive.

Also, the trick to gaming and cuddling is waiting until she falls asleep. Then she’ll never have to know! I would try to keep the controller thrashing to a minimum though. Her co-workers will only take “he was playing Pac-Man” as an excuse so many times before they call the cops, Justin.

JDevL

It’s the sleeping that’s the dangerous part. No matter what one of your arms is in an awkward position that it can’t escape from. Then of course I try gaming one handed, and that’s when accidents happen.

I only feel productive about all day gaming sessions when I talk to other gamers about it or it was a co-op session. Trying to explain to non-gamers that I’m ok with not moving for 6-10 hour blocks of time also isn’t worth it, and I think they are ok with being ignorant to it.

Robeque

I love the occasional 4, 5, or 6 hour session. After periods where I don’t get to play much because of this or that or the other when it’s hard to get into a game that has any kind of story that’s worth following, it’s nice to have a long session that lets me take the time to get into one and get the game crave out too. If I have too many sessions like that in a short time I start to feel like I’m not making enough effort to do other things that I should or could be doing.

Playing and cuddling is a rarity in my house, unless I’m cuddling with my dog. My wife doesn’t really play anything except Rock Band and SMB original, and she can’t stand listening to the sounds of most games I play while she’s trying to read. I’m also not a very good conversationalist with her when I’m getting into whatever I’m playing, so almost all of the time I spend gaming is “me” time. I do try to be aware when I’m spending a lot of free time playing games instead of with her. It’s just a balance that shifts for whatever outside factors there are at the time.

Fallout Dog

Go wait for me by the vault.

JDevL

Is your dog a good conversationalist about games?

Robeque

Bodie and I can chat for hours while playing just about anything.

GiffTor

Spenser normally either kibbutzes or makes fun of me when I die, although I attribute that to the fact that due to the lack of opposable thumbs and a more highly specialized frontal cortex, he cannot play and is, therefore, jealous.

JDevL

I think we’ve discovered a new training program for man’s best friend that needs to be explored further.

Conclusion

Who knew cuddling and pets were so influential on our game playing habits? As expected, a lot of our “rules” are self-imposed and more for the protection of others and the things outside of games that are important to us. Moderation is the key, unless no one else and no responsibilities are around, then feel free to dive back into what feels natural – all games, all the time.

Sources:

Giant Bomb (images)